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Rolling Stone Challenges Verdict Over False Gang Rape Story at UVA

Rolling Stone Challenges Verdict Over False Gang Rape Story at UVA

“no evidence that Erdely acted with actual malice”

Rolling Stone has a lot of nerve to challenge this verdict. Perhaps it’s their only option, financially.

ABC News reported:

Rolling Stone Challenges Verdict in UVa Defamation Case

Rolling Stone magazine urged a federal judge on Monday to overturn the verdict of a jury, which found that the publication and a reporter defamed a University of Virginia administrator with their botched story about a gang rape on campus.

Jurors awarded former Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo $3 million last month for her portrayal in Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s November 2014 “A Rape on Campus” about a woman identified only as “Jackie.” Jackie told Erdely that she was raped by seven men in a fraternity initiation, but a police investigation found no evidence to back up Jackie’s claims.

In a motion filed Monday, attorneys for Rolling Stone said the judge should overrule the jury’s verdict because there is no evidence that Erdely acted with actual malice. They’re also challenging the jury’s finding that the magazine’s December 2014 online version of the article — with an editor’s note acknowledging problems with the story — counted as “republishing” the false statements.

Rolling Stone argues that punishing the magazine for trying to warn the public with the editor’s note could prompt other outlets to stay silent when there are errors in an article in the future.


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Wow, I have seen assertions that were “thin” in some appeals but that is downright anorexic.

If these weren’t lawyers I’d think they were using the common language definition of “actual malice” rather than the special definition used in Sullivan cases. But surely any lawyer who would take money to write a brief in a case like this would know what the term means in this context.

The second argument holds no water: what Rolling Stone should have done was to rewrite or delete the offending paragraphs of the original article, and have the correction say “This story originally contained false and defamatory statements about an individual who did not deserve them; we have removed these statements and apologize to the subject and our readers”.

They need to pony up. So does Erdely. Justice delayed is justice denied.